Artificial Intelligence used to cut down on emergency response times

Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI, has blasted onto the scene with concerning results and discussions about federal oversight and regulation.

However, a Silicon Valley company developed an AI platform to help emergency responders get to where they are needed more quickly, which it hopes improves emergency response times.

During emergencies, seconds counts. Some of that valuable time can be used up when emergency vehicles are delayed in traffic or at intersections. That is where AI comes into the picture.

"So when it comes down to you or me or a loved one having a health problem, we want to have first responders there as soon as possible. So how do we learn about daily variations? AI is the greatest choice," said Tim Menard, CEO and founder of the company called LYT which is based in Santa Clara.

Menard’s company has developed a cloud-based AI system to link regional traffic management centers to the emergency vehicles that use the roadways.

"Where is the fire station? Here’s where the truck has to go to. Here is the traffic. What is the perceived amount of congestion? Are there people walking around? So the road gets set up with green lights ahead of time, so everybody is out of the way," Menard said.

The company is already operating in Seattle.

On a promotional video for LYT, every traffic signal that is seen along a route turns green by the time the fire unit reaches the intersection. The AI system is communicating with both the fire vehicle and the traffic signals, and using processing power to determine exactly when the lights need to turn green to keep it moving continuously down the roadway.

The system will adjust in real time if the fire crew makes a last-minute route change.

"One of the things where AI is really helpful is how predictive it is," Menard said.

The City of San Jose is already using the LYT technology to help route VTA buses around the city on busy Monterey Avenue.

While buses only get "priority sequencing" at signals – and not immediate signal changeovers – the power of AI to analyze complex traffic patterns is already clear.

"So the buses are now next in line, they are prioritized at every intersection they go through, that is 120 intersections along that full Monterey corridor route. It has made them spend less time at red lights, and get the green light more often. That improves transit reliability and service for transit customers," said Colin Heyne, public information manager for the city’s transportation department. 

As far as privacy goes, Menard is quick to point out that the AI is only processing traffic flow data for these models and not collecting any identifiable information such as license plate numbers.